Accounting is a steady, highly compensated profession in a bleak economic landscape. Accountants often report high job satisfaction, can take off a good portion of the year (especially if they start their own practices), and can quickly move up the ladder in the field. Most accountants have 1-4 years experience and gain prestige and higher salaries through adding certifications to their resume or specializing in different aspects of accounting.
If you naturally gravitate towards order, organization, and love to have control over your environment, accounting might be the career for you. If you enjoy math, especially arithmetic and analyzing numbers to solve problems, this career path is a great fit. Common duties of accountants include writing sales and cash flow reports, administering payroll, compiling balance sheets, enabling billing activities, managing budgets and keeping inventory.
Accountants often go on to become Financial Analysts, Accounting Managers, Financial Controllers, and can eventually work their way of the Chief Financial Officer, Finance Manager, Senior Financial Analyst and other comparable roles.
Accounting will always be in high demand as long as individuals, businesses, and organizations pay taxes and have budgets and finances to regulate. Our economic system is based on accounting, and many people find the work enjoyable, simple and rewarding. While there’s a wide range of positions that require different responsibilities, as an accountant you’ll likely gather data through accounting software, analyze it, determine results of what you’ve found and inform your client or organization about your findings.
For those who want to work and part of the year, accountants often have a busy season and a relatively light one. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2016 median pay for accountants and auditors was $68,150, or $32.76 per hour. There were nearly 1.4 million accounting or auditing jobs in 2016, and BLS predicted a 10% growth between 2016-26, which is faster than average. This will translate into approximately 140,300 new jobs.
Accountants often start with a Bachelor’s degree, then supplement it with certifications, especially the CPA. To take the CPA, you’ll have to meet requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the state you hope to work in, which sets its own standards for qualifying for the exam. 47 states and Washington D.C. require that Bachelor’s degree holders take extra courses to reach a 150-credit minimum to sit for the CPA exam. Often, those extra credits become a master’s degree or graduate certificate in accountancy.
Looking at Indeed, it’s clear that there are many roles graduates of Bachelor’s accounting programs can enter that are lucrative. Working for the government is a great way to start your career in accounting. For example, The National Security Agency is looking for an Accountant/Finance & Accounting Analyst, who will earn between $44,941 and $71,467 a year. It requires a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a business-related field with at least 24 credit hours of accounting.
Government jobs are usually more flexible on whether candidates have a CPA license, especially for entry-level positions. There are many other comparable positions where bachelor graduates work as junior accountants, audit associates, or accounting analysts.
Different states have vastly different average salaries, and requirements for accountants, and obviously there are some states you’d prefer to live in than others. Let’s take a quick look at the cities associated with the highest pay in accounting, according to Payscale:
Best Places To Work As An Accountant
San Francisco, California
New York City
U.S. News and World Report Best Undergraduate Accounting Program
The top ten undergraduate accounting programs according to U.S. News & World Report are University of Texas-Austin, University of Illinois-Urban-Champaign, Brigham Young University-Provo, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Notre Dame, University of Southern California, Indiana University-Bloomington, New York University and Ohio State University-Columbus.